Our Book Review Editor, James Keller, invited William Hasker to write a review of the Book by D.Z. Phillips, The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God and then in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief invited Phillips to respond. Aware of both their respect for each other and their philosophical differences we planned that Hasker’s review and Phillips’ response would appear in the same issue of the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Unfortunately that was not to (...) be. Dewi, as he was known to his many friends throughout the world, collapsed at his desk on 25 July, 2006 in the library of his beloved University of Wales, Swansea. Although we were not able to have the review and response appear in the same issue as we had all planned, we are now printing his response to Hasker’s review, “D.Z. Phillips’s Problems with Evil and with God,” which appeared in IJPR, Vol. 61,3. Dewi had completed the review and thanks to the efforts of Helen Baldwin who prepared the manuscript and Dewi’s wife, Monica, and family we are able to print it here. Since Dewi was responding to an earlier version of Hasker’s review, a few minor editorial changes have been made. Dewi’s death is a great loss to the philosophical community and a deep personal loss to his family and friends, but I am confident that he would be pleased to have this response appear. He might even have a story to tell, a comment that those who knew him well will fully understand. Eugene Thomas Long. (shrink)
Our Book Review Editor, James Keller, invited William Hasker to write a review of the Book by D. Z. Phillips, "The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God" and then in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief invited Phillips to respond. Aware of both their respect for each other and their philosophical differences we planned that Hasker's review and Phillips' response would appear in the same issue of the "International Journal for Philosophy of Religion." Unfortunately that was not (...) to be. Dewi, as he was known to his many friends throughout the world, collapsed at his desk on 25 July, 2006 in the library of his beloved University of Wales, Swansea. Although we were not able to have the review and response appear in the same issue as we had all planned, we are now printing his response to Hasker's review, "D. Z. Phillips's Problems with Evil and with God," which appeared in IJPR, Vol. 61,3. Dewi had completed the review and thanks to the efforts of Helen Baldwin who prepared the manuscript and Dewi's wife, Monica, and family we are able to print it here. Since Dewi was responding to an earlier version of Hasker's review, a few minor editorial changes have been made. Dewi's death is a great loss to the philosophical community and a deep personal loss to his family and friends, but I am confident that he would be pleassed to have this response appear. He might even have a story to tell, a comment that those who knew him well will fully understand. Eugene Thomas Long. (shrink)
In this article we argue that the emergence of a new form of organization – community enterprise – provides an alternative mechanism for corporations to behave in socially responsible ways. Community enterprises are distinguished from other third sector organisations by their generation of income through trading, rather than philanthropy and/or government subsidy, to finance their social goals. They also include democratic governance structures which allow members of the community or constituency they serve to participate in the management of the organisation. (...) Partnerships between corporations and community enterprises therefore raise the possibility of corporations moving beyond philanthropic donations toward a more sustainable form of intervention involving long-term commitments to communities. At the same time they change substantively the nature of any collaboration by allowing relationships to proceed on the basis of mutual advantage, thereby broadening their appeal and scope. In doing so, partnerships build capacity and enfranchise communities in a way that avoids the paternalism that has traditionally characterised relationships between corporations and voluntary sector organisations. Power relations are transformed because partners are seen as sources of valuable assets, knowledge and expertise, rather than recipients of patronage or charity. (shrink)
IT WAS an outlandish, ethically questionable experiment, but this was the 1960s after all. Psychiatrist Robert Heath of Tulane University in New Orleans hoped to cure his patients' depression, intractable pain, schizophrenia, suicidal feelings, addiction, and even homosexuality - which in those days was considered a psychiatric disorder - by drowning them out with pleasure, induced by an electrode implanted deep in their brains.
In a series of lectures on minds and persons, I am going to take advantage of the occasion to ask what kind of person should one be if one has a philosophical mind. I ask the question because it is itself a philosophically contentious issue. Indeed, I shall be offering answers in a climate which is generally hostile to them. I want to aise the issue in three contexts: first, in relation to questions which have been treated epistemologically, but which (...) I think belong to logic; second in relation to miracles; and third in relation to moral convictions. I shall spend most of my time on the first context. (shrink)
In approaching the topic, ‘Objectivity and Cultural Divergence’, there is little doubt that certain styles of philosophizing will conceive of the task confronting them as that of devising or at least calling attention to standards of rationality by which distinctions between objectivity and divergence are to be drawn. This mode of philosophizing is marked by the confidence it has in its own methods. It seldom occurs to it to question its own operations; to ask whether the heterogeneity of our culture (...) does not itself create difficulties for the practice of philosophy. It is to such questionings as these, however, that I want to direct attention in this lecture. (shrink)
It has been said that the tendency to make use of examples drawn from literature in discussing problems in moral philosophy is not only dangerous, but needless. Dangers there certainly are, but these have little to do with the reasons offered for the needlessness of such examples. Examples drawn from literature, it is said, introduce an unnecessary complexity into one's philosophising. Indeed, as Peter Winch has pointed out, according to ‘a fairly well-established … tradition in recent Anglo-Saxon moral philosophy … (...) it is not merely permissible, but desirable, to take trivial examples. The rationale of this view is that such examples do not generate the emotion which is liable to surround more serious cases and thus enable us to look more coolly at the logical issues involved’, and it carries the implication that ‘moral concerns can be examined quite apart from any consideration of what it is about these concerns which makes them important to us’. (shrink)
Many analyses of belief in the soul ignore the soul in the words. Dislocations of concepts occur when words are divorced from their normal implications. The ‘soul’ is sometimes the dislocated utterer of such words. Pictures, including pictures of the soul leaving the body, may mislead us by suggesting applications which they, in fact, do not have. But pictures of the soul may enter people's lives as desires for a temporal eternity. Contrasting conceptions of immortality and eternal life depend on (...) a willingness to say farewell to life. Atheistic denials of temporal eternities, do not appreciate these other possibilities. (shrink)
In his paper, ‘The Aroma of Coffee’, H. O. Mounce wants to expose what he takes to be a deep prejudice in philosophy, one which is at work in our culture more generally. Philosophers are reluctant to admit that there is anything which passes beyond human understanding. Of course, they are quite ready to admit that there are plenty of things that they fail to understand but this they would say simply happens to be the case. It does not mean (...) that what they fail to understand is something which is beyond human understanding. Thus even when they fail to understand something, that ‘something’ remains, in principle, within the reach of their understanding. For Mounce this prejudice flies in the face of what is platitudinously obvious: that there is much that passes beyond human understanding. (shrink)
In his 1950 Marett Lecture, Professor Evans-Pritchard gave an account of important methodological developments which had taken place in social anthropology. I should like to use the occasion to concentrate on some of the deep contemporary divisions in another subject which interested R. R. Marett, namely, the philosophy of religion. I shall do so, however, by reference to some of the methodological issues which concerned Evans-Pritchard.
There is a well-known remark in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations which even some philosophers sympathetic to his work have found very hard to accept. It reads: Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is. Surely, it is said, that is carrying matters too far. Wittgenstein's hyperbole should be excused as a harmless stylistic flourish.
This paper is a preliminary attempt to better understand the concept of legitimacy in stakeholder theory. The normative componentof stakeholder theory plays a central role in the concept of legitimacy. Though the elaboration of legitimacy contained hereinapplies generally to all “normative cores” this paper relies on Phillips’s principle of stakeholder fairness and therefore begins with a brief description of this work. This is followed by a discussion of the importance of legitimacy to stakeholder theory as well as the general (...) ambiguity of the term. A distinction is then drawn between normative and derivative legitimacy. Reference to this distinction helps distinguish between a relationship with the organization based on direct moral obligation and one based on the power to help or harm the organization. It is concluded that stakeholders who retain the ability to affect the organization are legitimate (derivatively), but that this legitimacy is derived from the moral obligation owed other (normative) stakeholders and that the two sorts of legitimacy are importantly different from one another. An example of the normative/derivative distinction at work in managerial decision making is elaborated upon and managerial and research implications are then suggested. (shrink)
A new emphasis on diversity and difference is displacing older myths of nation or community. A new attention to gender, race, language or religion is disrupting earlier preoccupations with class. But the welcome extended to heterogeneity can bring with it a disturbing fragmentation and closure. Can we develop a vision of democracy through difference: a politics that neither denies group identities nor capitulates to them? In this volume, Anne Phillips develops the feminist challenge to exclusionary versions of democracy, citizenship (...) and equality. Relating this to the crisis in socialist theory, the growing unease with the pretensions of Enlightenment rationality, and the recent recuperation of liberal democracy as the only viable politics, she builds on debates within feminism to address general questions of difference. When democracies try to wish away group difference and inequality, they fail to meet their egalitarian promise. When yearnings towards an undifferentiated unity become the basis for radical politics and change, too many groups drop out of the picture. Through her critical discussions of recent feminist and socialist theory Anne Phillips rejects this democracy of denial. She also warns, however, of the dangers on the other side. The simpler celebrations of diversity risk freezing group differences as they are, encouraging a patchwork of local identities from which people can speak only to themselves. Her arguments then combine in a powerful restatement of the case for a more active and participatory democracy. It is only through enhanced communication and discussion that people can respect and learn from their differences. (shrink)
Leading philosopher of religion D. Z. Phillips argues that intellectuals need not see their task as being for or against religion, but as one of understanding it. What stands in the way of this task are certain methodological assumptions about what enquiry into religion must be. Beginning with Bernard Williams on Greek gods, Phillips goes on to examine these assumptions in the work of Hume, Feuerbach, Marx, Frazer, Tylor, Marett, Freud, Durkheim, Le;vy-Bruhl, Berger and Winch. The result exposes (...) confusion, but also gives logical space to religious belief without advocating personal acceptance of that belief, and shows how the academic study of religion may return to the contemplative task of doing conceptual justice to the world. Religion and the Hermeneutics of Contemplation extends in important ways D. Z. Phillips' seminal 1976 book Religion Without Explanation. It will be of interest to scholars and students of philosophy, anthropology, sociology and theology. (shrink)
In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role (...) of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part I of this article took up the first two questions. Part II will take up the second two questions. Question 3 deals with the question as to whether DSM-V should assume a conservative or assertive posture in making changes from DSM-IV. That question in turn breaks down into discussion of diagnoses that depend on, and aim toward, empirical, scientific validation, and diagnoses that are more value-laden and less amenable to scientific validation. Question 4 takes up the role of pragmatic consideration in a psychiatric nosology, whether the purely empirical considerations need to be tempered by considerations of practical consequence. As in Part 1 of this article, the general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances. (shrink)
How must experience of time be structured in time? In particular, does the following principle, which I will call inheritance, hold: for any temporal property apparently presented in perceptual experience, experience itself has that same temporal property. For instance, if I hear Paul McCartney singing ‘Hey Jude’, must my auditory experience of the ‘Hey’ itself precede my auditory experience of the ‘Jude’, or can the temporal order of these experiences come apart from the order the words are experienced as having? (...) A number of recent authors (Phillips Experience and Time, ‘The Temporal Structure of Experience’, Soteriou ‘Perceiving Events’, Hoerl ‘“A Succession of Feelings, in and of Itself, is Not a Feeling of Succession”’, Rashbrook) claim, to paraphrase Martin (399), that inheritance best characterises how our temporal experience seems to initial reflective intuition. For this reason, Phillips takes the principle to form part of our naïve view of temporal experience. An opposing group of theorists object that inheritance is subject to empirical counter-example. This article surveys such challenges. Section 2 considers Grush's case against inheritance based on postdiction. Section 3 examines Watzl's anti-inheritance argument based on silencing effects. Finally, Section 4 explores a number of alleged counter-examples proposed by Lee (‘Temporal Experience and the Temporal Structure of Experience’). Section 1 provides essential background to the debate. (shrink)
The naïve view of temporal experience (Phillips, in: Lloyd D, Arstila V (eds) Subjective time: the philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of temporality, forthcoming-a) comprises two claims. First, that we are perceptually aware of temporal properties, such as succession and change. Second, that for any temporal property apparently presented in experience, our experience itself possesses that temporal property. In his paper ‘Silencing the experience of change’ (forthcoming), Watzl argues that this second naïve inheritance thesis faces a novel counter-example in the (...) form of the striking motion silencing effects recently demonstrated by Suchow and Alvarez (Curr Biol 21(2):140–143, 2011). Here I clarify the form which any counter-example to naïve inheritance must take. I then explain how, on a plausible, rival ‘crowding’ interpretation of Suchow and Alvarez’s data, motion silencing poses no more of a threat to naïve inheritance than standard cases of change blindness. (shrink)
In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role (...) of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part I of this article will take up the first two questions. With the first question, invited commentators express a range of opinion regarding the nature of psychiatric disorders, loosely divided into a realist position that the diagnostic categories represent real diseases that we can accurately name and know with our perceptual abilities, a middle, nominalist position that psychiatric disorders do exist in the real world but that our diagnostic categories are constructs that may or may not accurately represent the disorders out there, and finally a purely constructivist position that the diagnostic categories are simply constructs with no evidence of psychiatric disorders in the real world. The second question again offers a range of opinion as to how we should define a mental or psychiatric disorder, including the possibility that we should not try to formulate a definition. The general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances. (shrink)
Many contemporary philosophers assume that, before one can discuss prayer, the question of whether there is a God or not must be settled. In this title, first published in 1965, D. Z. Phillips argues that to understand prayer is to understand what is meant by the reality of God. Beginning by placing the problem of prayer within a philosophical context, Phillips goes on to discuss such topics as prayer and the concept of talking, prayer and dependence, superstition and (...) the concept of community. This is a fascinating reissue that will be of particular value to students with an interest in the philosophy of religion, prayer and religious studies more generally. (shrink)
Recently, Jonardan Ganeri reviewed the collaborative translation of the first chapter of Gaṅgeśa's Tattvacintāmaṇi by Stephen H. Phillips and N. S. Ramanuja Tatacharya (Ganeri 2007). The review is quite favorable, and we have no desire to dispute his kind words. Ganeri does, however, put forth an argument in opposition to a fundamental line of interpretation given by Phillips and Ramanuja Tatacharya about the nature of pramāṇa, knowledge sources, as understood by Gaṅgeśa and, for that matter, Nyāya tradition. This (...) response is meant to answer the argument and reassert an understanding of pramāṇa as factive, that is, as knowledge sources that are inerrant. We argue that this is the best reading of Gaṅgeśa himself .. (shrink)
Remarkable in the range that it covers, The Possibilities of Sense testifies to an equally remarkable philosopher. In essays on ethics and thephilosophy of religion, on literature and education, the contributors displaynot only the breadth of D.Z. Phillips's work but also its power. This powercomes largely from Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose significance as a moral and religious philosopher rivals his reputation as a philosopher of language.
Neoplatonic Exegeses of Plato's Cosmogony JOHN F. PHILLIPS AMONG THE MANY CONTROVERSIES to which the long history of interpretation of Plato's Timaeus has given rise, that concerning the eternity of the cosmos is one of the most enduring and complex, and the source of almost continuous debate from the time of Xenocrates to the present. The importance to all Platonists of a doctrinally consistent answer to the question of whether or not the universe had a beginning in time is (...) made amply clear in the statement attributed to Iamblichus by Proclus that proper understand- ing of the creation of the world is crucial for the entire theory of Nature. Iamblichus here refers obliquely to the orthodox Platonist position that the universe is not a temporal being subject to decay and destruction. The princi- pal problem for all of them, of course, was that, taken literally, Plato's account of the creation in the Timaeus, particularly the passage 27C-a8C, appears to be an unequivocal affirmation of a temporal beginning to the cosmos. Espe- cially troublesome was Plato's use of the verb y~yovev in Timaeus 28b 7, which seems to be an explicit claim for an &QX1] in time. That this passage did indeed refer to a temporal beginning was a point that was made repeatedly and forcefully by the chief opponents of the Platonists on this issue, the Peripa- tetics, who, following Aristotle, read the Timaeus creation account literally.' To.. (shrink)
Phillips traces the history of communitarianism through Aristotelian and Judeo-Christian writings, clarifying the proper function of the community in helping individuals help themselves by mobilizing church resources and countering anti-religious movements such as Nazism and communism.
In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role (...) of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part 1 of this article took up the first two questions. Part 2 took up the second two questions. Part 3 now deals with Questions 5 & 6. Question 5 confronts the issue of utility, whether the manual design of DSM-III and IV favors clinicians or researchers, and what that means for DSM-5. Our final question, Question 6, takes up a concluding issue, whether the acknowledged problems with the earlier DSMs warrants a significant overhaul of DSM-5 and future manuals. As in Parts 1 & 2 of this article, the general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances. (shrink)
In a brilliant series of essays, the distinguished philosopher D. Z. Phillips explores the alternatives for faith after foundationalism. A significant exploration of post-foundationalist thought in its own right, Faith After Foundationalism is also an important evaluation and critique of the theological implications of the views of Alvin Plantinga, Richard Rorty, George Lindbeck, and Peter Berger.Phillips’s own position is that one must resist the philosopher’s tendency to turn religious mystery into epistemological mystery. To understand how religious concepts are (...) formed is to understand that to speak of God as “beyond mortal telling” is not to confess a failure of language. God’s hiddenness is part of our concept of him—a reflection of the mystery of human life as it is lived. Faith After Foundationalism will be essential reading for philosophers of religion and theologians, as well as for students of contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
This paper reports a study of the roles of visuo-spatial and verbal working memory capacities in solving a planning task - the five-disc Tower of London (TOL) task. An individual differences approach was taken. Sixty adult participants were tested on 20 TOL tasks of varying difficulty. Total moves over the 20 TOL tasks was taken as a measure of performance. Participants were also assessed on measures of fluid intelligence (Raven's matrices), verbal short-term storage (Digit span), verbal working memory span (Silly (...) Sentence span), visuo-spatial short-term storage (Visual Pattern span and Corsi Block span), visuo-spatial working memory (Corsi Distance Estimation), visuo-spatial processing speed (Manikin test), and verbal speed (Rehearsal speed). Exploratory factor analysis using an oblique rotation method revealed three factors which were interpreted as (1) a visuo-spatial working memory factor, (2) an age-speed factor, and (3) a verbal working memory factor. The visuo-spatial and verbal factors were only moderately correlated. Performance on the TOL task loaded on the visuo-spatial factor but did not load on the other factors. It is concluded that the predominant goal-selection strategy adopted in solving the TOL relies on visuo-spatial working memory capacity and particularly involves the active ''inner scribe'' spatial rehearsal mechanism. These correlational analyses confirm and extend results previously obtained by use of dual task methods, (Phillips, Wynn, Gilhooly, Della Sala, & Logie, 1999). (shrink)
In Reconstruction in Philosophy, John Dewey issued an eloquent call for contemporary philosophy to become more relevant to the pressing problems facing society. Historically, the philosophy of a period had been appropriate to social conditions (indeed, this is why it had developed as a discipline), but despite the vast changes in the contemporary world and the complex challenges confronting it philosophy had remained ossified. Karl Popper also was dissatisfied with contemporary philosophy, which he regarded as too often focusing upon “minute” (...) problems. Both Dewey and Popper, however, were optimistic that the situation could be turned around. In this essay D.C. Phillips argues that the resources they mustered give no basis for this optimism; in particular, Phillips emphasizes that philosophy cannot have traction with closed-minded or fanatical individuals. Dewey passed over cases where his ideas about democratic processes and free intellectual exchange faced intractable difficulties, according to Phillips, and he further suggests that Popper “waffled” over the so-called “myth of the framework.”. (shrink)
In this article Phillips sketches the difference between a form of trust which is in fact a kind of credibility or reliability and a form of trust that could be termed ‘absolute trust’. He tries to show that one of the conditions of possibility of the reliability-form is a kind of absolute trust. Someone who would want to evaluate the trustworthiness of God, can do this only in light of criteria which make up a set of values in which (...) an unconditional trust is placed. This criticism of certain – mostly foundationalist – ways of talking about trust in God is not, he argues, a religious, but a philosophical criticism. Although the trust placed in another person and the trust placed in God are both to be called ‘absolute’, only in the first case our trust can be betrayed. (shrink)
This Very Short Introduction aims to disentangle the 'real' Marquis de Sade from his mythical and demonic reputation of the past two hundred years. Phillips examines Sade's life and work: his libertine novels, his championing of atheism, and his uniqueness in bringing the body and sex back into philosophy.
Yoga is thousands of years old, but because of its current popularity, some people wrongly dismiss it as just another exercise fad made fashionable by celebrities. In fact, as author Kathy Phillips demonstrates in this large, beautifully illustrated book, yoga is a gentle but powerful means of achieving strength, flexibility, serenity, and a healthy balance between body and mind. Originating on the Indian subcontinent at the dawn of civilization, yoga is now accepted worldwide as an effective way to deal (...) with physical and emotional stress. The Spirit of Yoga is a sensible introduction for beginners, and a source of inspiration for current practitioners who would like to learn more. It explains differences among the various yoga disciplines, enabling readers to make a considered choice that best fits their needs. The author uses her experience as a yoga teacher to describe exercises and postures-also shown in color photos-that can promote physical health and body flexibility while inducing emotional tranquility. Yoga positions are suggested as effective remedies for physical ailments and for discomforts produced by everyday stress. The author's witty approach to her subject demystifies today's yoga hype while offering readers sound guidance and emphasizing the entirely real benefits they can derive from this honorable discipline. The book's foreword is by the international fashion model Christy Turlington. Hundreds of color photos and illustrations. (shrink)
When surveying the scholarly literature over Wittgensteinian fideism, it is easy to get the sense that the principal interlocutors, Kai Nielsen and D.Z. Phillips, talk past one another, but finding the right words for appraising the distance between the two voices is difficult. In this paper, I seek to appreciate this intellectual distance through an exploration of the varying philosophical aims of Nielsen and Phillips, of the different intellectual imperatives that guide their respective conceptions of philosophical practice. In (...) so doing, I seek to show how a contemplative mode in philosophy may be used to appraise a philosophical dispute and the terms of disagreement. In this case, a contemplative approach to understanding the dispute would frame Nielsen’s and Phillips’ contributions against the backdrop of the ends they conceive philosophy to have. (shrink)
David Phillips’s Sidgwickian Ethics is a penetrating contribution to the scholarly and philosophical understanding of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. This note focuses on Phillips’s understanding of (aspects of) Sidgwick’s argument for utilitarianism and the moral epistemology to which he subscribes. In § I, I briefly outline the basic features of the argument that Sidgwick provides for utilitarianism, noting some disagreements with Phillips along the way. In § II, I raise some objections to Phillips’s account (...) of the epistemology underlying the argument. In § III, I reply to the claim that there is a puzzle at the heart of Sidgwick’s epistemology. In § IV, I respond to Phillips’s claim that Sidgwick is unfair in his argument against the (deontological) morality of common sense. (shrink)
A computer can come to understand natural language the same way Helen Keller did: by using “syntactic semantics”—a theory of how syntax can suffice for semantics, i.e., how semantics for natural language can be provided by means of computational symbol manipulation. This essay considers real-life approximations of Chinese Rooms, focusing on Helen Keller’s experiences growing up deaf and blind, locked in a sort of Chinese Room yet learning how to communicate with the outside world. Using the SNePS computational (...) knowledge-representation system, the essay analyzes Keller’s belief that learning that “everything has a name” was the key to her success, enabling her to “partition” her mental concepts into mental representations of: words, objects, and the naming relations between them. It next looks at Herbert Terrace’s theory of naming, which is akin to Keller’s, and which only humans are supposed to be capable of. The essay suggests that computers at least, and perhaps non-human primates, are also capable of this kind of naming. (shrink)
Helen Frowe has recently offered what she calls a “practical” account of self-defense. Her account is supposed to be practical by being subjectivist about permissibility and objectivist about liability. I shall argue here that Frowe first makes up a problem that does not exist and then fails to solve it. To wit, her claim that objectivist accounts of permissibility cannot be action-guiding is wrong; and her own account of permissibility actually retains an objectivist (in the relevant sense) element. In (...) addition, her attempt to restrict subjectivism primarily to “urgent” situations like self-defense contradicts her own point of departure and is either incoherent or futile. Finally, the only actual whole-heartedly objectivist account she criticizes is an easy target; while those objectivist accounts one finds in certain Western European jurisdictions are immune to her criticisms. Those accounts are also clearly superior to hers in terms of action-guidingness. (shrink)
William Rapaport, in “How Helen Keller used syntactic semantics to escape from a Chinese Room,” (Rapaport 2006), argues that Helen Keller was in a sort of Chinese Room, and that her subsequent development of natural language fluency illustrates the flaws in Searle’s famous Chinese Room Argument and provides a method for developing computers that have genuine semantics (and intentionality). I contend that his argument fails. In setting the problem, Rapaport uses his own preferred definitions of semantics and syntax, (...) but he does not translate Searle’s Chinese Room argument into that idiom before attacking it. Once the Chinese Room is translated into Rapaport’s idiom (in a manner that preserves the distinction between meaningful representations and uninterpreted symbols), I demonstrate how Rapaport’s argument fails to defeat the CRA. This failure brings a crucial element of the Chinese Room Argument to the fore: the person in the Chinese Room is prevented from connecting the Chinese symbols to his/her own meaningful experiences and memories. This issue must be addressed before any victory over the CRA is announced. (shrink)
It is widely held that the logical problem of evil, which alleges an inconsistency between the existence of evil and that of an omnipotent and morally perfect God, has been solved. D. Z. Phillips thinks this is a mistake. In The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God, he argues that, within the generally assumed framework, “neither the proposition ’God is omnipotent’ nor the proposition ‘God is perfectly good’ can get off the ground.” Thus, the problem of evil (...) leads to the problem of God. Phillips goes on to provide an alternative response to the problem of evil, expounded by means of his Wittgensteinian analyses of various concepts drawn from the Christian tradition. I argue that his criticisms of the traditional conception of God either fail outright or are at best inconclusive. I also point out that the religious concepts analyzed by Phillips are not and cannot be the same concepts as those employed in the Christian tradition from which they are supposedly drawn. For the concepts as traditionally employed presuppose the actual existence and activity of precisely the sort of being that, according to Phillips, “God cannot be.”. (shrink)
As an illustration of what Phillips called the "heterogeneity of sense," this essay concentrates on differences in what is meant by a "reason for belief." Sometimes saying that a belief is reasonable simply commends the belief's unquestioned acceptance as a part of what we understand as a sensible outlook. Here the standard picture of justifying truth claims on evidential grounds breaks down; and it also breaks down in cases of fundamental moral and religious disagreement, where the basic beliefs that (...) we hold affect our conception of what counts as a reliable ground of judgment. Phillips accepts the resultant variations in our conceptions of rational judgment as a part of logic, just as Wittgenstein did. All objective means of determining the truth or falsity of an assertion presume some underlying conceptual agreement about what counts as good judgment. This means that the possibility of objective justification is limited. But no pernicious relativism results from this view, for as Wittgenstein said, "After reason comes persuasion." There is, moreover, a non-objective criterion of sorts in the moral and religious requirement that one be able to live with one's commitments. In such cases, good judgment is still possible, but it differs markedly from the standard model of making rational inferences. (shrink)
D. Z. Phillips is widely assumed to have held that Christian immortality has no reality outside of language. The author challenges that assumption, demonstrating that Phillips wished to show that contemporary analytic philosophy distorts the reality that immortality has for believers. While most philosophical accounts of Christian immortality depend upon terms that have little religious significance, Phillips offered accounts that stress the centrality of that significance. The author gives an account of the sort of philosophical attention that (...)Phillips gave to Christian immortality and demonstrates Phillips’ lament for both the lack of this sort of attention in contemporary philosophy as well as the loss of certain ways of living that exemplify a belief in eternal life with God. (shrink)
This paper critically discusses D. Z. Phillips’ use of literary works as a resource for philosophical reflection on religion. Beginning by noting Phillips’ suggestion, made in relation to Waiting for Godot , that the possibilities of meaning that we see in a literary work can reveal something of our own religious sensibility, I then proceed to show what we learn about Phillips from his readings of certain works by Larkin, Tennyson, and Wharton. Through exploring alternative possible readings, (...) I argue that, although Phillips’ discussions are of considerable philosophical interest, they undermine his claim to be deploying a purely contemplative hermeneutical method. (shrink)